Dovestones fires: police probing moorland blazes say at least four fires were arson

Greater Manchester police have issued a warning about barbecues and cigarettes.
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Police investigating a number of moorland blazes near Dovestones reservoir in Oldham have issued a new appeal for the public’s help.

GMP believes at least four of the fires, on land close to the car park earlier this month, were started deliberately.

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They want anyone with phone or dashcam footage to contact them - and have asked visitors to be vigilant for any more suspicious activity.

The fires were discovered between Sunday 10 and Tuesday 12 July on land not far from the areas of Stalybridge and Saddleworth where severe wildfires broke out in the summer of 2018, requiring a huge emergency service response.

What have police said?

Superintendent Phil Hutchinson, of GMP’s Oldham district, said: “In recent days, there have been a number of fires on the moorland behind us here at Dovestones Reservoir.

“Following extensive enquiries by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and officers from GMP Oldham’s CID, it is believed that at least four of these fires have been started deliberately.

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“First and foremost, I would like to publicly reassure members of the public and warn offenders that we are following every line of enquiry to identify those responsible and being them to face justice.

“This is being treated as arson which, following conviction, can result in a lengthy prison sentence.

“As well as being criminal, it goes without saying that this behaviour is reckless and could have a devastating impact on the land, the wildlife and local residents – something we have seen before.”Though extensive enquiries are ongoing in partnership with other agencies, I would like to use this opportunity to appeal to members of the public for information – particularly anyone who has seen anything suspicious or has mobile phone, dash or helmet cam footage which may assist us.

“In the coming days and week, particularly during the heatwave, members of the public who frequent at Dovestones are asked to report anyone they suspect of igniting any kind of flame in the area.

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”Saddleworth Moor is currently subject to a Public Space Protection Order and, thus, the ignition of any kind of flame – including but not limited to barbecues – is a criminal offence. This includes the disposal of lit cigarettes. Breaching the order can result in a £1,000 fine.”

How to report

Greater Manchester Police can be contacted via or 101 or in an emergency, always dial 999.

Or you can report crime anonymously via the independent charity – Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.